United States District Court, District of Columbia
S. CHUTKAN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Oliver White alleges that Defendants violated the Americans
with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) and Americans with
Disabilities Act Amendments Act (“ADAAA”), 42
U.S.C. § 1983, and the District of Columbia Human Rights
Act (“DCHRA”). (ECF No. 1-1). Defendants have
moved for dismissal of all claims under Fed.R.Civ.P.
12(b)(1), alleging that Defendant Washington Metropolitan
Area Transit Authority (“WMATA”) is entitled to
sovereign immunity and that Defendant Metro Transit Police
Department (“MTPD”) is merely a department within
WMATA, not a separate legal entity. Plaintiff has also filed
a motion for leave to amend his complaint to add claims for
hostile work environment and retaliation under Title VII of
the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (“Title VII”), which
WMATA opposes. For the reasons stated below, Plaintiff's
motion for leave to amend his complaint is GRANTED.
Defendants' motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter
jurisdiction is also GRANTED as to Plaintiff's claims
under the ADA/ADAAA, the DCHRA, and § 1983.
has been employed as an officer at MTPD since 2005. Plaintiff
suffers from a medical condition characterized by low blood
circulation and impotence. He takes prescription
medication-including injectable medication-for his ailment.
(Compl. ¶¶10-13, 18 ECF No. 1-1). On October 25,
2015, MTPD placed Plaintiff under investigation following an
allegation of steroid use. (ECF No. 1-1 ¶14). Plaintiff
denied the allegation at an interview with representatives of
MTPD's Office of Professional Responsibilities and
Inspections, informing them that he only used a prescribed
injectable medication. (ECF No. 1-1 ¶¶15-18). After
the interview, MTPD required Plaintiff to undergo a fitness
for duty and psychological evaluation and to meet with a
counselor. (ECF No. 1-1 ¶23). On December 19, 2015,
Plaintiff was required to undergo a random urinalysis, and on
December 28, 2015, he was cleared of the allegation of
steroid use. (ECF No. 1-1 ¶¶25-26). He did however
receive a 15-day suspension for failing to report his use of
prescription drugs, as required by MTPD policy. (ECF No. 1-1
¶¶27-28). Plaintiff alleges that he suffered from
esophagitis caused by stress during this period. (ECF No. 1-1
Plaintiff's return to work on January 26, 2016, MTPD
required him to undergo a random urinalysis, and another on
May 14, 2016. (ECF No. 1-1 ¶¶32, 36). Plaintiff
further alleges that his supervisor acknowledged receipt of a
discrimination charge from the EEOC on March 30, 2016. (ECF
No. 1-1 ¶35). He also alleges that on one occasion his
supervisors told him that they were going to “fuck with
[him] bad.” (ECF No. 1-1 ¶34). Plaintiff filed the
original complaint in the Superior Court of the District
Columbia on March 8, 2017. (ECF No. 1 at 1). The case was
removed to federal court. (ECF No. 4).
STANDARD OF REVIEW
motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
12(b)(1) “presents a threshold challenge to the
court's jurisdiction.” Haase v. Sessions,
835 F.2d 902, 906 (D.C. Cir. 1987). The court
“presume[s] that a cause lies outside [its] limited
jurisdiction, ” Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins.
Co., 511 U.S. 375, 377 (1994), and accordingly,
“the plaintiff bears the burden of establishing the
court's jurisdiction by a preponderance of the
evidence.” Morrow v. United States, 723
F.Supp.2d 71, 76 (D.D.C. 2010) (citing Moore v.
Bush, 535 F.Supp.2d 46, 47 (D.D.C. 2008)). While a court
is not limited to the factual allegations in the complaint
when ruling upon a motion to dismiss for lack of subject
matter jurisdiction, see Jerome Stevens Pharms., Inc. v.
FDA, 402 F.3d 1249, 1253 (D.C. Cir. 2005), it must
accept those allegations as true. Attias v. Carefirst,
Inc., 865 F.3d 620, 627 (2017) (noting that
consideration of a 12(b)(1) motion to dismiss “start[s]
with the familiar principle that the factual allegations in
the complaint are assumed to be true”).
amendment of pleadings is governed by Rule 15(a), which
provides that “[t]he court should freely give leave [to
amend] when justice so requires, ” Fed.R.Civ.P.
15(a)(2), and instructs district courts “to determine
the propriety of amendment on a case by case basis.”
Harris v. Sec'y, United States Dep't of Veterans
Affairs, 126 F.3d 339, 344 (D.C. Cir. 1997).
Justifications for denial of leave may include undue delay,
bad faith, repeated failure to cure deficiencies in a
pleading, undue prejudice to the opposing party, and futility
of amendment. Id. at 344 (citing Foman v.
Davis, 371 U.S. 178, 182 (1962)). The non-movant
typically bears the burden of persuading the court to deny
leave to amend. Nwachukwu v. Karl, 222 F.R.D. 208,
211 (D.D.C. 2004). Here, WMATA has not (1) identified any
evidence of bad faith, or (2) provided any specific
contentions to support their claim that amendment would be
futile. Moreover, since the court will afford WMATA the
opportunity to fully brief the newly added claims via an
additional motion to dismiss, there is also no showing of
prejudice at this early procedural stage. Accordingly, the
court grants Plaintiff's motion for leave to amend the
addition to the two new claims under Title VII,
Plaintiff's Amended Complaint alleges six claims against
WMATA: two (Counts IV and VI) under the DCHRA; three (Count I
for declaratory judgment, Count III for money damages, and
Count V for money damages) under the ADA/ADAAA; and one
(Count II) under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. For the reasons
set forth below, the court finds that WMATA is (1) not
subject to claims brought pursuant to state law, (2) immune
from claims brought under the ADA/ADAAA, and (3) not a
“person” within the meaning of § 1983 and
therefore ineligible to be sued under that statute. The court
also finds that since MTPD is a department within WMATA and
not a separate entity, it cannot be sued separately. Cf.
Fields v. D.C. Dep't of Corr., 789 F.Supp. 20, 22
(D.D.C. 1992) (“It is well established, however, that
agencies and departments within the District of Columbia
government are not suable as separate entities.”)
(citing Byrd v. District of Columbia, 1991 WL
336038, 119 U.S. LEXIS 12775 at *7 (D.D.C. Sept. 12, 1991);
Roberson v. District of Columbia Board of Higher
Education, 359 A.2d 28, 31 n.4 (D.C. 1976)); see
also Brown v. Metro Transit Police Dep't, 87
F.Supp.3d 145, 146 (D.D.C.), aff'd, 637
Fed.Appx. 3 (D.C. Cir. 2016) (construing suit against MTPD as
suit against WMATA). Accordingly, all claims against MTPD are
dismissed as a matter of law.
is the creation of an interstate compact (“the
Compact”) signed by Maryland, Virginia, and the
District of Columbia. It is therefore an instrumentality of
those jurisdictions. Ndzerre v. Wash. Metro Area Transit
Auth., 174 F.Supp.3d 58, 64 (D.D.C. 2016); see also
Sanders v. Wash. Metro Area Transit Auth., 819 F.2d
1151, 1154 (D.C. Cir. 1987). As other courts in this district
have noted, the Compact itself clarifies that “one
signatory may not impose its legislative enactment upon the
entity created by it without the express consent of the other
signatories and the Congress of the United States.”
Lucero-Nelson v. Wash. Metro. Area Transit Auth., 1
F.Supp.2d 1, 7 (D.D.C. 1998) (citing OPIEU, Local 2 v.
WMATA, 724133, 139 (D.C. Cir. 1983)); see also
D.C. Code § 9-1107.01 (2017) (noting that WMATA is
“exempt from all laws, rules, regulations and orders of
the signatories” in relation to transit services
rendered). Plaintiff's Amended Complaint contains no
indication that Maryland and Virginia have consented to suit
under the DCHRA. Taylor v. WMATA, 109 F.Supp.2d 11,
18 (D.D.C. 2000) (“It is well established that WMATA is
not subject to the DCHRA because WMATA is an interstate
compact agency and instrumentality of three separate
jurisdictions.”); Sampson v. WMATA, No. Civ.
A. No. 04-1767, 2005 WL 3276277, at *3 (D.D.C. 2005)
(“Because there is no indication that Virginia and
Maryland have consented to the application of District of
Columbia law… [it] does not apply to WMATA.”).
Accordingly, Plaintiff's DCHRA claims are dismissed for
lack of subject matter jurisdiction.